What Are Stacked Credentials?

Stacked credentials are individual achievements that are combined over time to improve a learner’s employability or skill set. Stackable credentials aren’t a type of credential themselves but are simply a framework for accumulating knowledge. Using the framework, candidates build personal portfolios of knowledge and collect micro-credentials towards larger certifications.

How do stacked credentials work?

Consider the traditional degree; Over a period of two to four years a series of modules, lectures, exams, and coursework combine into a recognizable achievement. 

Stacked credentials are similar in that they can be stacked towards a greater achievement, but differ in that each completed credential is a recognizable reward. 

The Microsoft Excel course offered through McGraw-Hill is a good example of stacked credentials. Learners can progress through four levels of knowledge to gain the highest award – the black belt in Microsoft Excel. For each completed level of the course, the learner receives a digital badge to represent their new achievement. Adding the digital badges to a digital wallet card or badge backpack provides on-the-go proof of knowledge to prospective employers. 

In simpler terms, think of a stackable credential like a singular Lego brick. A box set of Lego bricks build a specific model, but builders aren’t restricted to simply one design. Lego bricks can be combined in a variety of ways to create a world of different models. 

Stackable credentials are the same. Learners can choose a ‘box-set’ of smaller courses to build towards an intended skill or design a personal portfolio of individual courses, relevant to their needs.

How are credentials stacked?

There are three ways in which credentials can be stacked:

  • Vertically
  • Horizontally
  • Hybrid

 

Vertical stacking is the most common in which a single topic is explored in advancing detail. For example, Microsoft Excel level 1, level 2, and level 3.

Horizontal stacking is the acquirement of knowledge across several topics. For example, marketing, data handling, Microsoft products.

Hybrid stacking is a combination of both vertical and horizontal stacking, where learners explore multiple topics in increasing levels of difficulty. For example, marketing level 1 and level 2 and Microsoft Excel level 1 and level 2.

With various ways of stacking available, learners have the freedom and accessibility to build their portfolio around their interests and personal ability.

What are the benefits of stacked credentials?

Recognizing efforts of pre-graduates

Students looking for work in their chosen field prior to graduation have little to show for their efforts. Stackable credentials solve this by providing an accredited reward for each completed module. Learners can now provide proof of their acquired knowledge rather than simply offering an expected graduation date.

Faster rewards motivate learners

All learners respond well to faster and incremental rewards when learning. Awarded digital credentials replace the traditional written grade providing learners with:

  • Easy to share achievements
  • Evidence of learning and skills
  • Recognisable awards for building resumes

Increased accessibility in learning

A side effect of the 2020 pandemic was a huge loss of jobs and closure of certain industries. Those out-of-work seek retraining and skills programs to improve their employability, but cannot wait to complete a classic two or four year degree – or sometimes, even the 16 weeks to finish a full term (semester). Stackable micro-credentials enable learners to gain relevant, up-to-date knowledge fast and at a more affordable cost. 

Key Takeaways

For learners old and young, stackable credentials offer:

  • A framework for accumulating knowledge over time
  • Cost-effective methods for acquiring new skills
  • Assistance for professionals looking to fill skill gaps
  • Motivation for continuous learning through faster reward
  • Accessibility for gaining knowledge around busy lifestyles
  • Incremental awards that greatly reduce course drop-offs
  • Shareable accomplishments that encourage course completion

 

Awards for stackable credentials are usually presented as digital certificates and digital badges. Using the Accredible platform, organizations can create and issue digital credentials to represent all levels of accomplishment.

Further Information

Learn more about issuing digital credentials using the Accredible platform by watching our webinar Introduction to Digital Credentials, covering:

  • What Digital Credentials Are
  • The Recipient Experience
  • How to Design, Issue, and Manage Credentials
  • Credential Branding and White Labeling
  • Standard Credential Analytics
  • The Benefits of Implementing Digital Credentials

 

Watch the Webinar

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